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Katherine Shonfield

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Road safety is a subject no-one would have the nerve to admit is boring despite the fact that the words irresistibly conjure up well-meaning and cringeworthy public announcements redolent of Harry Enfield.

The government, it appears, is banking on road safety continuing in its guise as a minority interest. Tony Blair's statements that Britain has a good safety record scarcely square with the 40 people a week killed on the roads. This complacency - an undisguised sop to car drivers - lies behind the 'measures' which the government brought in last week with the declared intention of reducing deaths. No doubt innumerable local authorities will be fighting each other to be the first to accept their 'invitation' to introduce 20 mile an hour speed limits around schools. Likewise coach and mini bus companies will be quaking in their boots at the thought of their proposed 'consultation' on mandatory fitting of seat belts. One notes a remarkable absence of clout on every level.

It is not just the Pedestrian Association who should be getting angry at this awaited non-event, but the Urban Task Force - road safety lies right at the heart of any strategy to transform the future of the city.

The huge mass of public space of our cities is in its streets. And the successful, convivial inhabitation of the city depends on their perceived safety. But the issue of safety, so trumpeted by the pedlars of Zero Tolerance, refers exclusively to rapists and murderers: if even 10 per cent of children killed on the roads last year had been criminally abducted and killed, the government would fall. We need to ask ourselves how a Zero Tolerance policy is considered possible, and indeed laudable, against a culture of crime, and impossible as a means to modify a culture of law abiding, respectable, killer car-drivers.

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